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22 June, 2024
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Another chapter closes in Strovolos double murder

Cypriot Supreme Court upholds double manslaughter conviction, points to reliability of prosecution witness


A man convicted as an accomplice in the Strovolos double murder case has lost his appeal, with his lawyers failing to convince the Supreme Court that the conviction of their client was not based on solid evidence.

According to local media, Marios Hadjixenofondos’ lawyers had filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, arguing that convictions of their client on multiple charges in the Strovolos double murder case had been “wrong, legally unfounded, and unjustified,” while also pointing out that the criminal court had taken it upon itself to add a double manslaughter charge after the hearings had ended.

The case goes back to April 2018 when the bodies of 60-year-old Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou and his 59-year-old wife Dina Sergiou had been found in their home after being stabbed to death multiple times.

A total of four suspects were sentenced in the case along with primary defendant Loizos Tzionis, who insisted he had been framed but later pleaded guilty to charges including premeditated murder except burglary.

While no DNA linking the suspects to the actual murders was ever presented, prosecutors used the testimony of one of the co-defendants, Sara Shams, to present evidence of conspiracy following a deal she had made to testify for the prosecution.

The lawyers argued Sham’s testimony admittedly based only on conversations with Tzionis 'could not have been used to reach a reasonable conclusion regarding an agreement between the two defendants'

Hadjixenofondos’ lawyers argued that Sham’s testimony, which was admittedly based only on conversations she had with ex-boyfriend Tzionis, “could not have been used to reach a reasonable conclusion regarding an agreement between the two (male) defendants.”

But the Supreme Court found that the defense had taken a narrow view of the testimony in question, saying Hadjixenofondos’ lawyers had “ignored the overwhelming probative value of the circumstances,” such as actions, timing, and attire on the part of the defendants prior to reaching and entering the house late at night, suggesting there was “no other reasonable conclusion that the appellant was part of a conspiracy to commit burglary.”

The defense argued that some defendants were not treated fairly after Shams made a deal with prosecutors, arguing it was not a fair practice to hand down sentences while the trial was ongoing.

Shams was handed down a four year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary. She received the sentence after her new lawyer took over her defence and struck a deal for his client to testify for the prosecution against the main suspect.

But the Supreme Court ruled that the verdict against Hadjixenofondos was based on the criminal court finding Shams a reliable witness, something not questioned by the lawyers who instead argued the court had not been impartial.

Hadjixenofondos did manage to get a charge reduced from transporting weapons to a small knife, while he was acquitted of the kidnapping charge.

But the Supreme Court confirmed the two manslaughter charges, which carry 15 years, meaning Hadjixenofondos’ time in prison would not change.

The case shocked the public after details of brutality were published, with a local forensic examiner suggesting injuries were consistent with wounds caused by someone who might feel hate towards the victim.

But local authorities were also criticized in the way the case was handled overall, with accusations ranging from witness intimidation to the failures following a number of autopsies ordered to be conducted by different forensic examiners.

Cyprus  |  Nicosia  |  Strovolos  |  crime  |  double murder  |  Tzionis  |  Shams  |  Siams  |  Hadjixenofondos  |  Hadjixenofontos  |  Supreme Court

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